Central America & Mexico

Three Beach Towns to Visit on the Pacific Coast of Mexico

When people think of Mexico, they often think of vacationing to the most popular tourist destinations with white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, Cancun or Playa Del Carmen for example. However, there is so much that the Pacific coast offers in Mexico as well. Although you don’t have the bright turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific coast is lined with not just the popular hubs like Puerto Vallarta but also cute beach towns you won’t want to leave. Whether you’re a surfer looking for the best waves or a vacationer looking for some sun and much needed R&R, there’s so much this side of Mexico has to offer.

Earlier this year I visited Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area for a short vacation. On my time there I visited some cute neighbouring towns that I fell in love with. Although still touristy, these places offer a bit of a different vibe than your typical resorts and are definitely worth a visit (even if just for a day or a few hours). Take a look at some of them below…


Located in a small cover on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Nayarit, just under two hours from Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find Chacala, a quiet little beach town. The population of Chacala is only about 300 full-time residents, but during high season the area can see over 1,000 people, often times over holidays like Easter and Christmas. Known as a hidden paradise, this tiny fisherman village is surrounded by the blue waters of the ocean and tropical rainforest. It is a great spot for those looking for a relaxing day trip or a more remote, authentic place to stay outside of the busy tourist areas. Swim, snorkel, hike, fish, enjoy nature, there’s lot to do in Chacala. I only visited for a few hours but we walked the beautiful white sand beach and enjoyed the less busy, laid back atmosphere the village offered. We took a seat at one of the beachfront restaurants and enjoyed some fresh fish and seafood. Our visit wasn’t long, but it was nice to see a new area of Mexico that many likely wouldn’t venture too.


Sayulita is a village backed by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. It’s known as a prime town for surfers and its beautiful beaches. Sayulita is a much more touristy, busy town in comparison to Chacala. You’ll find streets lined with cute shops, cafes and restaurants. The town was discovered in the 60s and has continued to grow since, including its expat population. Today the village has approximately 6,000 residents and even though it’s touristy, it offers more of an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Located about an hour from Puerto Vallarta and only about 30 minutes from Bucerias, this is a popular day trip destination for many. I would highly recommend Sayulita for everyone to visit, but for backpackers who are looking for the perfect backpacking town, Sayulita is your place.

San Pancho 

Located 33 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, with a population of around 2,000 full-time residents, San Pancho is another cute hippie town that you need to visit if you find yourself on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Another hippie town, San Pancho is full of great boutiques, restaurants and of course, the beautiful beach photographed above that is a kilometer in length and framed with lush jungle. On the main strip you can find live music by local musicians and all sorts of entertainment for people of every age whether you’re into hiking, fishing, whale watching, water sports or anything in between.

These are just a few of the amazing beach towns that dot the Pacific coast and I could literally spend days in each of them exploring! I love places that seem a little more unique and less traveled and these definitely fit the bill in comparison to the typical resort destinations in the area.

All three of these places make an appearance in my YouTube video from this trip. Watch it below!

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  • Reply
    Heather S
    January 4, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    I’ve never visited the Pacific coast of Mexico (mostly the Yucatan, like the many other tourists you mentioned at the beginning of this article) but I think from your picks Chacala is the one I’d like to try most! Similar to my favourite town in the Yucatan (it’s called Xcalak and I like it so much, I wrote a guide to it) but without the arduously long drive from civilization (several hours are necessary). Maybe this year is the year, considering the cooooold winter here in Canada!

    • Reply
      January 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm

      Ahh yes! Definitely would recommend a visit. Especially given it’s like -30 where I am right now. Brrrrr…

  • Reply
    August 2, 2018 at 1:54 am

    …in and out of the west coast of mexico since ’05. Chacala sounds like my next visit this summer. Hope to be in touch. Thanx.

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